In his essay (1967) Roland Barthes announces ‘The death of the author”: The meaning of a text is not dependent on the intentions or background of the author.
In experimental sciences the author is not important, the experiment is speaking for itself.
In a narrative discipline the narration should exist without the narrator.
This all brings me to a conclusion: the death of the teacher. The teacher is an author and a messenger sending texts. And when the author is dead, the teacher is also.
Is the text the only remaining vehicle of education, be it words, bodily expressions, behavior or images, writing or digital messages. What does this imply to the role of the teacher?
In a MOOC, texts are the vehicles of meaning and learning and teaching. The role of a teacher in a MOOC is just to deliver texts (or is it a tiny bit more?). In a MOOC this is clear, we do not know the teachers, we do not see them and they mostly disappear after some time from our screens. In schools this death of the teacher is not clear, because the teacher is still there in front of us.
This ‘death of the teacher’ is in a way contrary to what people try to repair in education. In the Netherlands and other countries people try to restore the authority of the teacher. The ‘Finnish model’ is taken as argument for this restoration of teacher authority. Is restoring teacher authority an answer to educational problems? Is the teacher a kind of missionary?
When the text is important for teaching, learners must learn to recognize the value of a text. The value of a texts does not depend on the author. The value of a text is not dependent on how many people do trust the text. Critical reading of texts could be the heart of education. The value and trustworthiness of a text lies in the network of texts (not persons) it belongs to. (Is experience and reality a sort of text?)
“.. How can I help being a humbug, he said when all these people make me do things that everybody knows can’t be done? … [wizard of Oz p.146]
Image: Luke and the Madonna, Altar of the Guild of St. Luke, Hermen Rode, Lübeck 1484. (Wikimedia) Luke is writing with inspiration of the dove and of Mary and the Child to enhance trustworthiness of his writings.